Scotland's windy hills are some of the best in Europe for generating electricity from wind farms. The development of onshore wind power throughout the world has accelerated over the last few years as the technology becomes more competitive and in response to the incentives governments have set in place for renewable electricity. Suppliers are also becoming increasingly aware of the business opportunities presented by the renewable energy industry. Onshore wind turbine technology is set to become extensively deployed throughout the world.
Onshore wind is a significant source of renewable electricity in Scotland and a growing part of the nation's economy. There is now a greater installed capacity in onshore wind farms than any other renewable source. Europe's largest operating onshore wind farm is currently the Whitelee wind farm near Glasgow. In South Lanarkshire, a larger onshore wind farm with capacity 548MW has been given planning permission, and there are also plans to extend Whitelee further.
Onshore wind brings many opportunities for communities - for example, through jobs associated with designing, constructing and maintaining wind farms; by enhancing enjoyment of the countryside by tourists and local communities through opening up access for walking, cycling and horseriding; through other environmental improvements such as habitat restoration made while the wind farm is built; and potentially bringing an income into the community where developers and communities agree some form of shared ownership or financial benefit. Some local communities have even built their own small wind farms - this is something the Scottish Government has supported through advice and grants under the Community And Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES). We have also published a Community Renewable Energy Toolkit to help communities understand what's possible, challenges to overcome and where to go for more help.
Wind farms must always be very carefully sited to ensure that none are built which have unacceptable impacts on the environment or local amenity. Ministers have no limit to the amount of wind farms they would like to see in Scotland - as many as possible, but wind farms will not be given the go-ahead at any price. Unsuitable applications are rejected. The Scottish Government will only allow wind farms to be built where the impacts have been found to be acceptable. More information on wind farm planning applications consented, refused or being decided by the Scottish Government is available and you can also find out how to object to or support an application.
There is more information on what the Scottish Government is doing to drive the sustainable development of more wind farms in the Renewables Action Plan.